Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: John Lyly
Editor: David Bevington
Peer Reviewed

Galathea (Modern)


550
3.3
[Enter the] Alchemist [and] Rafe.
Alchemist Rafe, my boy is run away. I trust thou wilt not run after.
Rafe [Aside] I would I had a pair of wings that I might fly after!
Alchemist My boy was the veriest thief, the arrantest liar, and the vilest swearer 555in the world -- otherwise the best boy in the world. He hath stolen my apparel, all my money, and forgot nothing but to bid me farewell.
Rafe That will not I forget. Farewell, master!
[He turns to go.]
Alchemist Why, thou hast not yet seen the end of my art.
Rafe I would I had not known the beginning. Did not you promise me 560of my silver thimble to make a whole cupboard of plate, and that of a Spanish needle you would build a silver steeple?
Alchemist Ay, Rafe. The fortune of this art consisteth in the measure of the fire, for if there be a coal too much or a spark too little, if it be a little too hot or a thought too soft, all our labor is in vain. Besides, they 565that blow must beat time with their breaths, as musicians do with their breasts, so as there must be of the metals, the fire, and workers a very harmony.
Rafe Nay, if you must weigh your fire by ounces, and take measure of a man's blast, you may then make of a dram of wind a wedge of gold, and of the shadow of one shilling make another, so as you have an organist to tune your temperatures.
570Alchemist So is it, and often doth it happen, that the just proportion of the fire and all things concur.
Rafe Con-cur? Con-dog! I will away.
Alchemist Then away!
Exit Alchemist.
[Enter Astronomer, gazing up at the sky, with an almanac in his hands. He and Rafe do not notice each other at first.]
Rafe An art, quoth you, that one multiplieth so much all day that he 575wanteth money to buy meat at night?[Seeing the Astronomer] But what have we yonder? What devout man? He will never speak till he be urged. I will salute him. -- Sir, there lieth a purse under your feet. If I thought it were not yours, I would take it up.
Astronomer Dost thou not know that I was calculating the nativity of Alexander's great horse?
Rafe Why, what are you?
580Astronomer An astronomer .
Rafe What, one of those that makes almanacs?
Astronomer Ipsissimus. I can tell the minute of thy birth, the moment of thy death, and the manner. I can tell thee what weather shall be between this and octgessimus octavus mirabilis annus. When I list I can set a trap for the sun, catch the moon with lime-twigs, and go a-batfowling for stars. I can tell thee things past and things to come, and with my cunning measure how many yards of clouds are beneath the sky. Nothing can happen which I foresee not; nothing shall.
Rafe I hope, sir, you are no more than a god.
Astronomer I can bring the twelve signs out of their zodiacs and hang 590them up at taverns.
Rafe I pray you, sir, tell me what you cannot do? For I perceive there is nothing so easy for you to compass as impossibilities. But what be those signs?
Astronomer As a man should say, signs which govern the body. The ram governeth the head.
595Rafe That is the worst sign for the head.
Astronomer Why?
Rafe Because it is a sign of an ill ewe.
Astronomer Tush, that sign must be there. Then the Bull for the throat, Capricornus for the knees.
Rafe I will hear no more signs, if they be all such desperate signs. 600But seeing you are -- I know not who to term you -- shall I serve you? I would fain serve.
Astronomer I accept thee.
Rafe Happy am I! For now shall I reach thoughts, and tell how many drops of water goes to the greatest shower of rain. You shall see me catch the moon 605in the 'clips like a coney in a purse-net.
Astronomer I will teach thee the golden number, the epact, and the prime.
Rafe I will meddle no more with numbering of gold, for multiplication is a miserable action. I pray, sir, what weather shall we have this hour threescore year?
Astronomer That I must cast by our judicials astronomical. Therefore come in with me, 610and thou shall see every wrinkle in my astrological wisdom, and I will make the heavens as plain to thee as the highway. Thy cunning shall sit cheek by jowl with the sun's chariot. Then shalt thou see what a base thing it is to have others' thoughts creep on the ground, whenas thine shall be stitched to the stars.
Rafe Then I shall be translated from this mortality.
615Astronomer Thy thoughts shall be metamorphosed and made hail-fellows with the gods.
Rafe O fortune! I feel my very brains moralized, and as it were a certain contempt of earthly actions is crept into my mind by an ethereal contemplation. Come, let us in.
Exeunt.